Do You Know Your Winter Weather Terminology?

The 2014 polar vortex caused wind chills of -30 F and lower in parts of the Midwest. Image source: Popular Mechanics

The 2014 polar vortex caused wind chills of -30 F and lower in parts of the Midwest. Image source: Popular Mechanics

Do you know the difference between a winter weather advisory and a winter storm watch? The Weather Channel and Red Cross clear up some confusion about commonly used winter weather terms:

  • Winter storm outlook: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next two to five days.
  • Winter weather advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause notable inconveniences and can be hazardous. Usually these situations are not life-threatening if caution is used.
  • Winter storm watch: Winter storm conditions are expected within the next 36 to 48 hours. If you’re in a watch area, review your winter storm plan and stay informed.
  • Winter storm warning: Life-threatening, severe weather conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Take precautions immediately if you’re in a warning area.
  • Blizzard warning: Winds that are at least 35 mph or greater, blowing snow that will frequently reduce visibility to a quarter mile or less for at least three hours, and dangerous wind chills are expected.
  • Wind chill index: This isn’t the actual temperature, but what it feels like to the average person, taking into account the effects of wind and temperature on the human body.

Still in its infancy, 2014 introduced a relatively unknown winter weather term that has been wreaking havoc in the Midwest, Northeast and parts of Canada, bringing record-breaking cold temperatures and harsh conditions: the polar vortex. As Popular Mechanics explains, a polar vortex is essentially a big, swirling air mass that hovers over the North and South poles in the winter. Upper-level winds moving at an excess of 100 mph at times keep the bitter cold air locked in the Arctic region, although these wind speeds can vary greatly, causing the vortex to become distorted and spill southward, bringing with it the cold, dense Arctic air and frigid conditions.

Because Crawford’s claims adjusting work takes it directly into areas struck by severe storms, the Company takes a close interest in weather. Crawford helps manage the effects of severe weather—such as a polar vortex—through its Catastrophe Services (CAT), the insurance industry’s leading independent adjusting resource for claims management in response to natural and man-made disasters, and also through its Global Technical Services (GTS®) business, which focuses on large, complex losses.

Take a look at this brief video to learn more.

Now that you’re familiar with these terms, what precautions are you taking after this recent bout of severe winter weather?

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